Friday, August 19, 2011

Tears for our daughters

"Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of stregth"
Billy Graham

I am not sure where to start.
I have tried for a few days to articulate what my heart feels.
And there are just no words.

Dave and I have been in Kansas City, Missouri for a series of meetings. It is called the Compassion Forum. From Monday till Wed, we were part of a forum on human trafficking, and it has shaken my world.

It will forever change the way I think.
I will pray for Maggi and Emma very differently now.

I learned things like. . .
In India cattle cost more than children do.
(I can not wrap my mind around that. )

There are more slaves now than any other time in history.
There are 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor, and forced prostitution around the world.

Here in the United States, there are at least 100,000 children are used in prostitution every year. The average age of entry into prostitution is 13.

The average age is 13.
I can not comprehend that.

I caught a glimpse into the 3 largest industry in the world, next to drugs and weapons. That fathers will sell their children to brothels. The trafficker could purchase a little girl for as little as $150, that girl will then be sold to customers as many many as 20 times a night, and can bring in $10,000 a month.

I learned that father's are selling their daughters younger and younger to brothels, because there is a myth that if a person infected with AIDS has sex with a virgin he would be cured. So these men are infected 6-7 year old virgins with AIDS.

Girls and women are being beaten, drugged, and abused while living in the brothels. That they have no chance for escape.

Some families have been tricked into selling their children into the sex industry. Some knowingly sell their children, but sadly others are tricked into thinking that they are sending their children to a better life, schooling, or better jobs.

Many of these girls are forced into prostitution.

This is hard to understand all of this in statistics, the numbers are to hard to understand. Human trafficking seem so far away from home. . .

But is here in the United States. There are 100,000 children used in prostitution every year in the United States.

This tears my hear to pieces. I look at it from the perspective of my daughters, and the lives that they would be living, if but not for God's grace.

My heart is broken for these girls.

And today, I was thinking how much more must my Father's heart hurt. How much more grief does he feel?

I know that His hand is not short and His ear not deaf, so I know that He is reaching out to these daughters of His.

But what am I supposed to do about this? I can not sit by and do nothing. The country that He called me to is a destination for sexual tourism. Because prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, and because we live in a deprived country, we now have a large population of children who have been forced into prostitution. Costa Rica now rivals Thailand and the Philippines as a hot spot for human trafficking in the world. There are no official statistics, but an estimation is that there are between 10,000 and 20,000 sex workers in the country, and 25,000 to 50,000 sex tourist who visit each year, 80% of whom are U.S. citizens.

What will I do about this. What does God want me to do about this?

My heart has been stirred, my soul is seeking and I am waiting. . . I want to do something to impact this. To change the destiny of a little girl, before she is forced into this life.

Please join me in prayer for this, these women need to be reached, by the power of our Father, and His reconciliation, hope, and healing need to be offered to these women.

I don't know what our ministry will look like in Costa Rica. But I want to make myself available to show Christ's love to the most marginalized of society.

I have been reading, for the 3rd time a book by David and Beth Grant, Assemblies of God missionaries to India, called Beyond the Soiled Curtain. Below are some of the statements that gripped me.

"it is too easy to relgate girls caught in prostitution to statistics. But it is crucial that every girl be recognized as a daughter-a daughter of God and a sister to every believer. Perhaps then when we see them as members of God's family- we will be more inclined to make the sacrifices necessary to welcome them home."

"But how does one confront the dark and dangerous face of evil called suxual trafficking and see victims. . .changed? The answer is found in God's Word, where it says He works through His people. He gives us strategies, courage, power, ideas and resources to be used for His glory, to reach out to women and girls in need. He desires to rescue and restore them more than we do. He is simply looking for people who are willing to do their part, to raise their hands and say, "Lord, show me what I can do".

That is where I am tonight. . .Lord here I am, with my hands raised. . . asking. . ."Lord, show me what I can do". . .


Monday, August 15, 2011

Survival Skills

"It's totally empty," says an AAA counselor. "There are no points of interest. We don't recommend it." The 287 mile stretch of U.S. 50 running from Ely to Fernley, Nev. passes nine towns, two abandoned mining camps, a few gas pumps and the occasional coyote. "we warn all motorist not to drive there," says the AAA rep, "unless they're confident of their survival skills."

a quote from Life Magazine describing Nevada's U. S. 50 as the Lonelist Road in America.

I suppose everyone needs a desert experience, Moses had one and a burning bush appeared, the Israelites wandered there for 40 years, Jesus had one and was tempted by Satan. So I guess it was time for the Cartwright's to have a desert experience.

We were driving across country from South Carolina to California, as part of a bigger journey to Costa Rica. We are relocating there to finish raising our budget. We had a two week trip planned. We stopped along the way to visit some friends, see some National treasures, and to attend General Council in Phoenix Arizona. On our last day of driving, we hoped in the car to make the last 7 hours of driving, and we noticed the car making a really odd sound. If you read the previous blog, you know that we had heard the noise from before, and I asked for prayer. The noise had stopped, and I really believed that God had answered the prayers, and "healed" our car. The noise turned into the car not acting right. This was at 8:00 in the morning. We had already loaded the car, and had checked out of the hotel.

Just to give you a picture of where we were. . . we were smack dab in the middle of NO WHERE. We had just driven about 4 hours the night before with only passing a few gas stations. Dave had been counting the cars that passed us, and for about 5 hours there had been 9 cars total that had passed us going in the opposite direction. When AAA named it the Lonelist Road in America it was for good reason.

Anyway, realizing we needed to find a place to have the car looked at, we realized we needed a plan. Right away we prayed. All four of us. Dave took us back to the hotel, and the girls and I were able to go back into the room. Dave took off with the car, and the trailor that has the things that we have left, after yard sales, give-aways, and long term storage. He manages to find a garage that can look at the car. They inspect it and tell us we need a new transmission.

Have you ever been at a place like this. . . a desert place. . . a lonely place. . .

It was a defining moment for our family. I really believe this.
I believe that God gives us what we need for that day.
And that day He gave us what we needed.

Writing this all out, I feel so silly for feeling like this was such a big defining moment, "so ya'll broke down in the desert, no big deal"
But we had just left our home, taken our kids out of a life that they loved, left family, dear friends, full time jobs, and a beautiful home, to follow after what we believed God had for us, only to be left alone in the desert.

We were not able to rent a car, as the closest place was 3 hours away, we couldn't rent a uhaul truck because there would have only been room for 3 of us, we had to be on a plane on Thursday, so we couldn't wait for it to be fixed. We were out of options. We were in a hotel room with 7 pieces of luggage, 2 girls, in the middle of the desert. It was a surreal experience.

There were so many emotions. .. they came in waves. . .But the common one, the one that prevailed, was

Thank You Lord. Thank you for keeping my family safe. Thank you for not letting us break down in the desert at night. Thank you for providing a hotel for my girls to be in. Thank you for keeping me in the palm of your hand, I don't deserve your kindness.

We were able to have family come and get us, and we made it back to Cali with all of our stuff, Our car is still in the desert, Dave and I will pick it back up on our back out, We flew back for a service we had scheduled in SC, and to pick up the Honda and drive it across country to a meeting called the compassion forum.

I am usually not a silver lining kinda girl. Normally I would be like, why did that have to happen, the cost of the repair is all we have left of our personal money, Maybe God is saying we shouldn't be doing what we are doing, we are not praying hard enough. . . ect.

But I was this time. I believe that it was exactly because people are praying for me, that God allowed us to make it to that town, and I believe that my family could have been harmed along the way except that we had prayer. I received 4 text messages and 1 facebook message from different people all telling me that they had been praying for my family. One person even woke up from a dream about us and begin to interceed for us.

So to end this very long post, We discovered that we have survival skills, we are confident of this. We spoke with our Father, We got on our knees, and we had faith. With these skills we can survive whatever the enemy tries to discourage us.